The Reading Countess's Reviews > The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
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's review
Dec 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: ya
Read in January, 2010

The book that launched Sherman Alexie onto the YA market is now available in a deluxe collector’s edition! Beautifully designed with a gifty new look that includes a foil-stamped, die-cut slipcase and 4-color interior art, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

In his nationally acclaimed, semi-autobiographical YA debut, author Sherman Alexie tells the heartbreaking, hilarious, and beautifully written story of a young Native American teen as he attempts to break free from the life he was destined to live.

I was urged to read Alexie’s book when it was first published by a readerly co-worker of mine. However, I put it to the back of my pile of books to read simply because the age of the main character, at fourteen, seemed too far of a stretch for my own students. I dusted the copy off during the Christmas break now that my own oldest son is reaching towards that age, and as a mom, I was seeking some sense of what a fourteen year old thinks like. This is a perfect book to get into the head of a sensitive teen-aged boy.

Told through honest and concise language coupled with hilarious illustrations reminiscent of a graphic novel like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the reader walks away from Part-Time Indian having laughed and cried. I have read reviews and heard people discuss how shocking the language and references Alexie makes. However, I disagree. I would much rather read “inappropriate” language and sexual slurs than be subjected to violence. Life, when written without a filter, is ugly. Alexie has somehow managed to put a beautiful spin on it.

Favorite passages:
“But he was so wrong. And he knew he was wrong. He was the loser Indian father of a loser Indian son living in a world built for winners.” (p. 55)

“Yes, it’s a small library. It’s a tiny one. But if you read one of these books a day, it would still take you almost ten years to finish.”
“What’s your point?”
“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”
Wow. That was a huge idea. (p.97)

If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing. (p.129)

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,” I said. “By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not.” (p. 176)


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